Saint Petersburg, June 14 (IANS) Noting that the first match against Morocco here on Friday will be a must-win for both sides, Iranian coach Carlos Queiroz said that the team is ready for the fixture.
Queiroz, 65, is the first coach in Iran to take the team to the World Cup twice. This time the Asian team will be facing Morocco, Spain and Portugal in its group, reports Xinhua news agency.
“It is impossible to imagine playing World Cup competition without pressure,” he said.
“The moment we qualify for the World Cup, we have the right to enjoy it. We are happy to enjoy the pressure,” he said.
This is the fifth time that Iran will be playing at a World Cup.
Talking about Morocco, Queiroz said that it is a great team, with “very good players and they are very well prepared”.
After 20 years of waiting, Friday evening will mark Morocco’s return to the global stage. It is currently on a run of 18 games unbeaten, including games against World Cup teams Serbia, Nigeria, South Korea and Egypt.
“They are one of the favourite candidates to move into the second round, but we don’t tolerate anybody telling us that we are not capable of winning,” said the Portuguese.
“We don’t tolerate anybody undermining our expectations and our hopes. We are here to compete with the favourites.”
He believed that the best medicine (to cope with pressure) in football is to win.
“The teams that start winning have good advantage, good morale, motivation and confidence. Our players are full of enthusiasm and we have a chance,” he said, adding that he hoped the team could defend as much as possible with confidence to win the ball, and attack with wise decisions.
“No matter what happens on the pitch, I want my players to … leave the pitch bringing home pride and happiness,” he said.